ABC’s of Sheet Music

“Quality sheet music is important for any level of musician trying to add to their repertoire,” said Adam D’Arpino in his article Five Quick Tips for Choosing Music. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, sheet music helps to shape how you learn, perform and understand a piece.”

It is a relatively inexpensive way to learn a variety of interesting and worthwhile pieces from different genres, eras, composers and countries. One can build a substantial library from sheet music both individual and from collections of songs and pieces for piano, voice or instrumental solos and ensembles.

Sheet Music is available in many different skill levels of well-known pieces and titles. The easier versions allow beginners and intermediate musicians to learn music that is usually at a more advanced level. Numerous publishers and distributors offer a grade level assessment of their selections. This allows the potential purchaser
to get an idea of the skill level required to play the piece. If you would rather just look at a piece to decide, many online distributors offer a preview of one or two pages to view.

Piano players and other musicians have another option called a “Fake Book.” These are collections of very well-known popular songs with a written melody and chord names. This allows musicians to play the melody with their own version of the chords to accompany the melody.

One can purchase sheet music from numerous sources. Your local music store is probably one of the quickest, most convenient places to buy or order music. Music stores do not have everything available in the store but they will usually be more than happy to order it for you.

Another source is from the publisher directly. You can easily find phone numbers and addresses and order what you want. If the piece is out of print—you have some options. You can order it and wait for a reprint or try other music stores, schools or libraries. Music teachers, both school and private, have access to many selections in their own collections and collections of colleagues.

Computers give easy access to a myriad of sites to view, listen to and order music. Sometimes sheet music is free of charge online. Try these websites:

This is free sheet music! Music created or published before 1923 is free with possibly some exceptions. Music published after 1963 is probably still copyrighted—caveat emptor! (Let the buyer beware.)

You can sell public domain music e.g. record yourself and sell it on a compact disc (CD). Some music copyrighted between 1923 and 1963 lost their copyright because they did not renew—they then became free. Investigate the vast amount of sheet music available, both online and off.
Please submit your questions/comments to

Visit our website at for up-to-date information about the Danville Community Band.

8 Summertime Essentials That Will Rescue You From Any Beauty Emergency!

  1. HATS: One of the best hats on earth is any hat by Helen Kaminski! Hats keep you protected from the harmful UVA and UVB harsh sunrays; they also protect your hair color from fading and hair drying out. To keep cool, hats are by far one of the best ways to protect you overall. The Trendy look this season is a Fedora style. They come in many different styles and colors, so choose one that suits your fashionista style and sport one!
  2. SUNSCREEN: Of course we had to mention sunscreens, this is a given. Use a good sunscreen that has both Titanium Dioxide and Zinc. Using both ingredients will assure you that you will be receiving the best in sun protection. Chemical sunscreens do not have the protection like these very important ingredients have. Using chemical sunscreens may protect the skin but the harmful UVA rays go through the skin and can do severe damage inside. So beware and check the ingredients.
  3. SELF-TANNERS: Apply self-tanners when you want to look tan but without the help of the suns harsh rays. This is a great way to look and feel healthy with a natural glow. We carry a wonderful self tanner by Ongrien, that goes on clear then works with your own melanin in your skin to give you the ultimate-perfect looking sun-tanned glow.
  4. BODY SCRUBS: Use in the shower, our aggressive hydrating body exfoliant will help self-tanners go on smoothly without streaking or spotting. It will also allow your body moisturizers to penetrate deeper into the skin so your skin looks flawless and beautifully smooth.
  5. POWDER FACE BRONZERS: With the help of a natural looking face bronzer, you will achieve a nice balance and look healthy with a natural glow. A lot of girls do not want to tan the face because the delicate skin ages rapidly from the sun. By using a bronzer this will help even out skin tones and match the rest of the body. There is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful girl with an awesome tan and then you look at her face and it is ghostly white. Okay girls this is a big “no-no.”
  6. LIP TREATMENTS: For ultimate moisture, apply a lip treatment that has both Vitamin E and Vitamin C. This will help protect the delicate lips from drying out and chapping. At The Rouge we offer lip treatments with Vitamin E, Vitamin C a 15 SPF sunscreen with hint of color all in one. It is anti-aging, full of shine and comes in six great colors. Great for summer and year round.
  7. CHAN LUU WRAP BRACELETS: From Hollywood these unique wrap bracelets are the hottest fashion accessories of the season. Seen in fashion magazines everywhere they are custom made from sterling silver with leather to Black Diamond crystals with sterling silver skulls. They are incredibly fashionable, trendy and gorgeous! Anyone can wear them and everyone wants one… two and three. They dress up any outfit and come in so many different styles to choose from they can be addicting. You can find these great custom designs at high-end boutiques. Please come in and see our collection of custom Chan Luu wrap bracelets designed exclusively for The Rouge. Great for the fashionista within.
  8. MICHAEL STAR BEACH BAG: Grab a bag and go to the beach! Michael Star Beach Bags are great to put all your Summer Essentials in and go! We Love our Michael Star beach bags for any summer time trip or just hanging out with friends.



Summer Standbys

Market Fresh

The farmers’ market doesn’t need any promotion this month; you can pretty much follow your nose to find the best bargains in town. Do I honestly need to wax poetic over the flavor and aroma of an organically-grown tomato? How about snappy-fresh green beans? Or sweet corn on the cob, picked that very same morning? Does your neighborhood supermarket bring in a truckload of juicy, vine-ripened watermelons every Saturday morning? I don’t think so. These are a few of the more obvious summer pleasures available at the market, but some savvy shoppers also zoom in on less popular seasonal treasures.

Cucumbers are a mainstay of the vegetable world. So ubiquitous, that a lot of people don’t even think of them as vegetables. Year ‘round we see them for sale—waxed-up to shine like a new car and piled into towering pyramids in the produce section of supermarkets, where they are periodically misted with a fine spray to provide the allusion of freshness. For better or for worse they’re everywhere—sometimes bitter and hard to digest—mixed with plain yogurt and herbs for a cooling raita; mounded onto crudités platters; and tucked inside prissy little tea sandwiches. Even the lowliest coffee shops routinely toss a few limp, seedy slices into their anemic green salads. For a long time I became so accustomed to lousy cucumbers that I just stopped buying them. But then—ta da!—a revelation. Cucumbers can be crunchy and moist, with a refreshing, slightly grassy aroma. Now is the time to find them; though if you are looking for small ones, you may have to stand in line with the picklers.

Dill pickles seem to get all the attention, and that’s fine with me. I love them; and fortunately there are a lot of good ones available commercially. Bread and Butter pickles are another story. They are really quite easy to make, and the resulting pickles are far more crisp and complex-tasting than the sugary-sweet ones you find on grocery store shelves. My favorite recipe below was inspired by the late great cookbook author, Sheila Lukins.


4 pounds Kirby (waxless) cucumbers, about 4 inches long, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 12 cups)
2 pounds small white or yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup coarse (kosher) salt
3 cups cider vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes

1.Place the cucumbers, onions, and salt in a large bowl and toss well to combine. Completely cover the surface with ice and let stand in a cool place for 2 hours. (This step is necessary to crisp the cucumbers.) Drain, rinse, and drain again.

2.Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, turmeric, celery seeds, ginger, peppercorns, and pepper flakes in a large, heavy, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the prepared cucumbers and onions, and return to a boil. Cook 1 minute, then remove from the heat.

3.Pack the hot pickles into 5 or 6 sterilized pint jars, making sure there are no air pockets. Cover with the hot syrup, leaving 1/4 inch of head space in each jar. Seal and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes*, following the instructions provided with the canning jars. Makes 5 or 6 pints.

* If you prefer to avoid the canning process, simply let the pickles cool to room temperature before screwing the lids onto the jars; then store in the refrigerator.

The 411 on Cukes
–Thought to be native to either India or Thailand, cucumbers are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables. Columbus introduced them to the Western world in the late fifteenth century; and by the time the Pilgrims arrived, the Iroquois were already growing them.

–Cucumbers consist of up to 90% water. A cup of chopped or sliced cukes weighs in at a mere 16 calories, is virtually fat-free, and very low in carbs.

–Refrigerate cucumbers—unwashed and unsliced—in an open plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. When handled properly, farm-fresh cucumbers can last up to 1 week.

–Everyone recognizes the long, narrow English hothouse cucumber (sometimes labeled “seedless” or “burpless”) that is unwaxed but encased in plastic to preserve moisture. The common garden-variety cukes sold commercially are often coated with an oily wax substance to prolong their shelf life. (You’ll find them unwaxed at the farmers’ market, so you won’t have to deal with that nasty stuff.) Expand your horizons this month and try a few other varieties, like round lemon cucumbers; narrow Japanese cucumbers with thin, bumpy skin; ridged Armenian cucumbers, which are often long and twisted; and slender, thin-skinned Baby Persian cucumbers. Kirby is actually a generic name for pickling cucumbers. They are bred to be short, slightly chubby, crunchy, and rarely over 4-inches long, with bumpy skin and fewer seeds, making them ideal for any kind of pickle.

–Beat the summer heat with Spa Water: Put some cucumber slices in a pitcher along with a sprig or two of fresh mint; then fill with cool water. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, until the water is icy cold and infused with flavor. To serve, strain or not—as you please. No calories, but plenty of pizzazz.

The Danville Certified Farmers’ Market, located at Railroad and Prospect, is open every Saturday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. For specific crop information call the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at 1-800-949-FARM or visit their web site at

The Rockefeller Secret: Part 2

Secrets to wealth and health you have got to know!

Not all of us had parents like Mr. Rockefeller. As you remember from last months issue, Mr. Rockefeller came from humble beginnings, yet, his foundation is a continuing legacy of health and wealth for decades to come.

During the time of great global onslaughts and economic disasters a secret to building wealth and creating the life you have always dreamed of is literally right before your eyes. As an executive life coach to CEOs and people with both small and big dreams all over the world, I have found that they all share one thing in common—the secret of the Rockefellers. Of course many will never reach the unprecedented wealth this man achieved, but who is to say you won’t!

Recapping from last month:

Key 1: The Roots Dictate the Fruits.
Or, as I like to say it: “what you truly believe will show forth by our behaviors.” Or, “how we think is how we will speak.” Anyway you say it. Mr. Rockefeller believed what his parents instilled in him: Stay healthy and be generous.

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us. This is the law of reciprocity.”

Secret 2: The law of reciprocity.
It’s not a word we hear the teenagers using very much, but it’s certainly one we should be teaching them—charity—be it giving monetarily or time and energy to help anyone for that matter, always yields a return. Of course, I’m not saying, “give to get,” what I am saying is that a return is inevitable. It’s a natural law. The ancients called it “sowing and reaping.” It’s the age-old proverb, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While these may sound like clichés, they are just as powerful today as they were thousands of years ago. Look at the modern day “Rockefeller,” Bill Gates. He has given over 10 Billion Dollars and look at what is happening to his business and life. When I assess a company or an individual’s life and they ask me, “Ron, we want to make more money.” I start digging for the roots of Generosity. Sound silly? Tell that to my wife and I when we were down to our last dollar, working diligently as Rockefeller did. I looked at my wife and said, “We don’t have that much to live off of, but what we do have, could be given to charity…” Little more than a few months later, my first book was published and they gave us an entire year’s salary up front. Call it luck if you want, but within our hearts, my wife and I know it was law! If you have given to any organization or charity, please understand that your contribution is helping someone—so you can now prepare for help to return in kind!

“Building wealth should never be the outcome of compromise. What you compromise to keep in the beginning, you’ll end up loosing in the end.”

This weeks GOAL for YOU: Ask yourself the question. “When was the last time I did something for another human being? Am I adding to someone’s life or business or am I just taking away? Are there other areas of my life where I could be giving?

Ron Kardashian

Ron Kardashian

Ron Kardashian is a life coach, fitness expert, educator, conference speaker, author, national television and radio personality, and NSCA-certified strength and conditioning coach. Kardashian was one of America’s first life coaches. In 1994, he founded Kardashian Life Coaching & Personal Training and has since inspired hundreds to reach their full physical, mental and spiritual potential.

Kardashian has been twice nominated as Personal Trainer of the Year. He has been an honored speaker for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Considered a “coach’s coach,” he has empowered executives to operate at peak performance; personally, professionally, and most important , spiritually.

Ron also heads a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation that is relentless in its efforts of bringing optimal health to people of all walks of life. This organization’s mission is to fight obesity and related diseases on a global scale. Across the globe, Kardashian’s unique approach has garnered amazing results, making him a powerful, voice of change for professional athletes, CEOs, political leaders, and clergymen of every age, religion, and creed. Ron lives in California with his beautiful wife, Tia, and two children.

For an appointment or bookings you can reach Ron at:, or call 888.918.HEAL. Visit Ron’s website at

The Boys Are Back

There are many reasons why a person likes or dislikes a particular movie. Sometimes it’s as simple as the mood you’re in at the time you watch it. I viewed this movie with a friend who had lost her husband when her children were small and it brought feelings to mind that were probably better left in the past. Another dear friend at my office recommended The Boys Are Back and I’m so glad she did. Quite frankly, I missed it coming through the theaters last year, maybe you did as well.

Sportswriter Joe Warr (Clive Owens) has lived a fast-paced world of professional duty for most of his life, leaving beloved wife Katy (Laura Fraser) behind to tend to their young son, Artie (Nicholas McAnulty). When Katy develops cancer and quickly dies, a thunderstruck Joe is left to care for his grief stricken child, never having developed any parenting skills. He, at first tries “strict” and then when he sees that doesn’t appear to be working swings the pendulum to being his son’s best friend. Adding further stress is the arrival of Harry (George McKay), Joe’s estranged teenage son from a previous marriage back home in England. Joe and Artie live in Australia and “English Boarding School” Harry tries to acclimate to a whole different life… and lifestyle. Chaos reigns.

Joe is trying to juggle a demanding career, his homestead and his boys, neither of which he has known with any degree of intimacy. The house is a mess, he’s bordering on child endangerment with the boys and things just aren’t getting any better.

What you see peaking through the clouds though is pure joy, budding relationship between a father and two sons. The director (Scott Hicks) also doesn’t miss the opportunity to create a beautiful bond between two brothers of disparit age who had never met each other.

Hicks makes impressive discoveries in his two young supporting stars (both completely at ease in front of the camera), but there’s a lot to be said for Clive Owens’s performance. Known recently for gun-toting action heroes (Shoot ‘Em Up) and smooth tricksters (Duplicity), here he gets a role to sink his teeth into. There are many scenes, some happy, some sad that pack amazing emotional punches. Owens’s rises to the challenge every time.

Many of today’s movies are geared to young men and boys. We get science fiction, horror and babes, scantily clad, what we don’t get is The Boys Are Back, a quintessential boy’s film to admire with no explosions or action sequences. So, invite your dad, granddad or brother over and watch The Boys Are Back. It examines the unique connection between male family members and there’s plenty of bravado, mischief, tantrums and heartbreak to go a long way.

The Boys Are Back is a movie that celebrates life! As always I invite your comments at or visit my archives at

2010 Volvo C30: A Small Volvo is Retro Flare!

Passing Lane

2010 Volvo C30

Rising fuel prices and higher government miles-per-gallon requirements have created a demand for smaller cars from both consumers and automotive manufacturers. At the same time, we expect even the smallest of vehicles to meet the strict safety qualifications we demand when transporting our family and friends. A persistent issue with compact and subcompact vehicles is how to make a small car safe and good looking. The solution from Volvo, who is renowned for being a leader in automotive safety, was to build a small hatchback off the proven S40 platform and morph styling clues inspired by the classic 1800ES from the 1970s. The result is the 2010 Volvo C30.

First introduced as a 2009 model year, the C30’s aggressive stance comes from its dramatic proportions. It sits on the same wheelbase as the S40 sedan, but looses 8.8-inches off the rear along with 200 lbs. This helps push the wheels out to the edges leaving short overhangs. The rear taillights sit on broad shoulders and run up the sides of the glass tailgate in a similar fashion to the XC60 and XC90 crossovers. From the front you clearly recognize the C30 as a Volvo with its distinguishable grille and hood. The shape of the rear hatch is what brings out the 1800ES flare.

The 2010 Volvo C30 comes in two trims: 2-door T5 Hatchback ($24,950) and 2-door R-Design Hatchback ($27,150). The R-Design includes body kit front and rear spoilers, unique split premium leather front seats with embossed R-Design, aluminum inlays, R-Design floor mats with accent piping, sport pedals, watch dial instrument cluster, 3-spoke steering wheel, 3.5-inch polished exhaust tail pipes, unique grille with matte silver surround and matted silver accented exterior mirrors.

Volvo is known for building exceptionally safe cars so you might not expect its list of specifications to generate performance rated numbers. Both versions come with a 5-cylinder turbo-charged 2.5-liter engine rate a respectable 227 horsepower that is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive. An automatic transmission is available for $1,250. The C30 with its turbo-charged engine actually produces straight line numbers that are as fast as or faster than the Mini Cooper S, Honda Civic Si, and Volkswagen GTI. That’s a bonus – safety and performance.

The interior follows tradition with its S40 sedan brother and is comfortable and delivers a sophisticated styling. Volvo has a futuristic “floating” center stack that is an ultra thin silver trimmed panel housing the radio and climate control systems. An almost hidden storage area lies behind the stack. The optional smart electronic key transmits a signal allowing a “dummy” key to be used to start the vehicle, while the main key remains in your pocket or purse. Our model came with the preferred package that includes a power glass moon roof, keyless drive, and power front seats.

Room for improvement:
Rear passenger seat room is limited
Cool Features:
Complimentary Factory Scheduled Maintenance for the first 3-years or 36,000 miles
Personal settings for locking, audio and climate control
HD Radio with USB and AUX inputs

Ok, I keep mentioning safety so I suppose I should share some of the 2010 Volvo C30’s safety features. As you would have expected, even though the C30 is a small 4-passenger car, it is still loaded with standard safety features including: 4.3-point safety belt pretensioners, child safety seat latches, dynamic electronic stability traction control, head/side/passenger air bags, cage/high strength steel, 4-wheel antilock brakes, and remote keyless entry.

In Summary – The 2010 C30 is a fun-to-drive small car that extends Volvo’s safety reputation to the two-door category and for some that might be reason enough to buy the C30. My test vehicle had the R-Design trim adding to the sportiness of the vehicle. If you aren’t looking for a cargo hauling vehicle then you will adjust to the 12.9 cubic feet of space behind the back seat, which can expand to 20.2 cu.-ft after dropping down the rear seat. If you are in the market for a small sporty car designed with safety in mind – then the 2010 Volvo C30 is worthy of consideration.

For more information and a complete list of features and specification go to

Passing Lane

2010 Volvo C30

2010 Volvo C30

Base price: $26,950 as driven: $33,500 (including destination and optional equipment)
Engine:  2.5-Liter 5-cylinder
Horsepower:   227 @ 5000
Torque: 236 pound-feet @ 1500 rpm
Transmission:   Automatic Transmission with Geartronic
Drive:   Front Wheel-Drive
Seating:   4-passenger
Turning circle:   38.1 feet
Cargo space:   12.9 cubic feet
Curb weight:   3200 pounds
Fuel capacity:   15.9 gallons
EPA mileage:    30 highway, 21 city
Wheel Base: 103.9 inches
Warranty:    4 years/50,000 miles Powertrain Limited
Also consider:    Honda Civic Si, Mini Cooper S, and Volkswagen GTI

Stamps In My Passport

Stamps In My Passport

Red Square in winter, Moscow, Russia

You may find this a sensitive subject, and I can certainly understand why. Yet, we must all face it sooner or later. Death, that is. Now it seems that people of prominence, especially those who possess a great deal of either authority or money, attempt to circumvent this inevitably-final event by erecting monuments of one sort or another. Let me tell you right now, it doesn’t work. It does, however, seem to help the tourist trade. When traveling you continually run across burial places of local heroes. They vary in size and opulence. Some are more popular than others, but each country has its share. Over the years, I have visited a number of burial sites of prominent people and find most of them worth a visit. I often fail to bring the proper reverence to them. Nevertheless I find them interesting, and I strongly encourage you to seek them out and visit them if you can.

Stamps In My Passport

Two guards at the entrance to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Let me share a few of these visits with you. They are presented for your consideration in no special order. Far be it from me to alienate any nation by denigrating their most important heritage.

We’ll start with Russia. One cannot help but be awed when viewing Red Square from its western edge. To your left stands the GUM department store, ahead is the magnificent onion-domed St. Basil’s church, and to your right the dark, foreboding walls of the Kremlin. As you work your way along these walls, you read the names of deceased Soviet heroes—generals who gave their all on the battlefields in both the Russian Revolution and the Second World War, and cosmonauts who first explored space for mother Russia. These human remains entombed in the Kremlin walls are nothing compared to the red marble monument nearby, which houses those of the author of communism, Lenin.

Our visit with Mr. Lenin began as we joined a short queue of mixed civilians and military awaiting their audience. Within minutes we were allowed inside. Here, flanked by guards, lay Mr. Lenin in a gray suit, white shirt, and tie – his moustache and goatee visible. He was completely encased in a glass container and looked quite at ease, just lying there. I would have loved to snap his picture, but I had been warned against this prior to entering. In fact, even stopping to gawk too long was discouraged. We trooped by along with everyone else and soon found ourselves back out in the street.

Just recently I read that the Soviet government was thinking about placing him in a more conventional cemetery. Maybe they have. At any rate, I did visit him some thirty years after he died and found him quite stoic.

Stamps In My Passport

Forbidden city building facing Tienanmen Square, Beijing, China

Then there is Beijing, China. This visit began in a cobblestone square much larger than Red Square, namely Tienanmen Square near the heart of Beijing. The group we were traveling with was about thirty strong and about as American as can be. The tomb we were headed for was that of Chairman Mao and was much larger than Mr. Lenin’s. Also it had a line of several hundred people waiting for their audience. Our Chinese guide exerted a bit of authority, and we were allowed to cut in very near the front of the line. This bothered me a bit because if I were waiting in line to get into, say the White House in Washington, DC, and a bunch of run-of-the-mill Chinese tourists elbowed in, I’d have complained in a loud voice. Well, here I was doing it to them, and it bothered me. Not enough, however, to go to the back of a two hour line. At any rate, we entered this apparently-sacred shrine. I mention this because all voices became hushed, hats were removed, and a silent double line developed. We passed by Mr. Mao much the same as by Mr. Lenin. Mr. Mao, however, had on, fittingly, his Mao jacket. You know, the one that buttons up to his neck and ends in sort of a clerical collar. The outfit was a pale gray. I felt he looked a lot more robust than most of his pictures. Perhaps he had gained a little weight. We all silently and solemnly paraded by his glass case. Once again, no pictures.

Uncle Ho, or Mr. Ho Chi Minh, was not a lot different from the previous two. We were in Hanoi, Viet Nam, of course, which has a more immediately-remembered past. His mausoleum looked a lot like those of Messrs. Lenin and Mao except it was a trifle larger. Apparently the longer you last, the bigger the building. Uncle Ho’s last resting-place is in the middle of his last living-place. The houses he used, including his own private bomb shelter, surround the back forty of his tomb. He spent a number of years preparing for his leadership role as a cook on board ships, and also in France. Hence, he liked to cook in his kitchen until the end.

Our slow march past his glass case was much like the others. Rumor has it he travels to Moscow for a few months each year on a sort of cosmetic upgrade, and believe me it showed. He looked a lot healthier than the other guys did.

Stamps In My Passport

Taj Mahal, the mausoleum located in Agra, India

Our India visit occurred in the northwesterly part near the city of Agra. It appears that the Raj who ruled that section of the world found a beautiful young wife. She did her best for him, producing some twenty-one or so children, so the story goes. Unfortunately she gave out before he did, by dying when the last one arrived. This rich ruler built a beautiful shrine for her, and named it the Taj Mahal. It has some magnificent features I’m sure you’ve read about, specifically the reflecting pool and the way the sun turns it a brilliant white at sunset. The ruler and his bride are discreetly entombed on a lower floor, inaccessible to the public. Subsequently this was not as personal a visit as the others since we were kept upstairs.

England is loaded with graves and caskets of people of note. Either the Brits had a lot of early important leaders, or this is a country that wants to preserve its history. I could write a full book on all the people of note I visited here. For example, I stepped over Willy Shakespeare, gawked at King Henry VIII’s cement box, and waved at Lord Nelson in his tomb. The ones I liked best, however, were the side-by-side boxes of Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert. It seems Albert gave out at an early age, while Victoria carried on alone without him for many more years. Because Albert died so young, the likeness on top of his coffin showed a youthful and handsome face. Victoria, apparently concerned that a likeness of her on her demise would demonstrate a physical difference, had a likeness of herself at Albert’s age fashioned on her casket top. Hey, when you’re a queen, you can do as you please.

The thing I liked best about all of these visits was I didn’t have to talk to any of them. Or maybe that’s what I liked least. At any rate, if anyone asks I have an impressive list of dead rulers I have visited.

Harry Hubinger is a retired engineer who operated his own company for twenty years. He first began traveling outside the United States on business, but these visits escalated upon his retirement. He has now traveled to 115 countries and continues to add several new ones each year. In 1998 he began writing his humorous and insightful articles for a supplement to a local newspaper. These stories, based on experiences most travelers could identify with, soon earned him a wide local following. In 2005 he published his first book, Stamps in My Passport—a collection of travel vignettes. Harry has lived in Danville for almost forty years and has volunteered with the Danville Police Department for the past seven. His wife, Barbara, is the detail chronicler of their trips. Her journals provide the background for Harry’s broader view. You can get his book at:

How About Staging?

Q. Tom, lots of people predicted that higher interest rates were inevitable by early summer yet it is apparently not the case. Aren’t interest rates more attractive now than earlier in the year?

The answer is a resounding YES!* And it just goes to show that no one can predict with certainty the ‘moving parts’ of a constantly evolving real estate finance market. I hesitate to try to explain the Federal Reserve’s role in keeping interest rates attractive and available because even I do not understand all the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae intricacies but the bottom line is that the national housing sector is too important a piece of the economic pie for the Feds to ignore. As others have said (and I agree), broader economic recovery is just too dependent on housing. What we do know now is that fixed, 30 year, 5% money (with a 1 point loan origination fee or less) is available in ‘jumbo conforming’ amounts up to $729,750. On a $500,000 loan, the difference in payment between a 5% and a 6% interest rate is approximately $310 per month! My recommendation …stay in close contact with your preferred mortgage provider or real estate broker to be apprised of the best financing opportunities. Whether you are purchasing or refinancing, keep in mind that your credit rating, work history, financial reserves and home appraisal value will be vigorously reviewed during the process. *(at press time)

Q. I am considering selling my home; how much can ‘staging’ make a difference in the ultimate marketability and value of my property?

Staging can make a significant difference. However, it is rarely, if ever, a substitute for effective market pricing; in other words, staging will not make an overpriced home sell.
Staging is meant to be a complementary process to the other components essential to a successful home sale; those other components being appropriate pricing, desirable location and effective marketing. An effective stager will transform the living spaces of a home by suggesting and implementing cleaning, de-cluttering, painting, flooring, lighting, accessorizing, furnishing and/or landscaping improvements … that’s right – a great stager will ‘touch’ a home inside and outside! Essentially, a stager’s work should enhance a property with the objective to invite potential buyers to make offers. The best stagers understand the incremental return on investment of every enhancement they recommend so that the seller may net the most money possible. Lastly, not every home needs staging before coming to market; rely on your real estate agent for good counsel regarding any vendor’s pre-market assistance.

Q. When a home sells in my neighborhood but hasn’t closed escrow yet, I’ve noticed that some real estate agents hang a ‘Pending Sale’ rider on the sign post while others hang a ‘Sold’ rider. Why is that and what is the rule?

Good question! There is no “rule.” The decision to hang either sign rider is the personal preference of the real estate agent. Some sellers feel that a bold ‘Sold’ rider may discourage back-up offers especially during the contract contingency period; many agents, on the other hand, want to promptly proclaim their marketing success to the rest of the neighborhood. There are other minor factors but my experience is that neither sign impacts the outcome of the transaction or the reputation of the agent. What is important is that the real estate agent explains beforehand to the seller to avoid any surprises.

Tom Hart

Tom Hart

Tom Hart is a practicing Real Estate Broker and a partner at Empire Realty Associates in Danville. He is a Certified Master Negotiator by the University of San Francisco and a Certified Master Strategist by HSM Harvard Program on Negotiation. He is past president of the Contra Costa Association of Realtors (2005) and past president of the Realtors’ Marketing Association of the San Ramon Valley. Tom is in high demand as a speaker & trainer inside & outside the real estate industry.

Trivial Matters

The annual Kings X Trivia Tournament was held June 28 at WPLJ in Walnut Creek. The competition was fierce. Any one of the six teams could have won. I am happy to say that my team “Outhouse Time Machine,” was the winner. As usual, it took a village to win, so my congratulations go to Tim Reagan, Scott Strain and Bob Canter. It was a grand group.
 Since I am in a “Mel” low mood, let’s go to work.

  1. Who played Mad Max in the movie series of the same name?
  2. He was the third Major League player to hit more than 500 homeruns. Who was he?
  3. We knew him as the “Velvet Fog.” What was his name?
  4. Who was the FBI agent credited with tracking down John Dillinger?
  5. Who was the voice of Sy, the Mexican, on the Jack Benny radio show?
  6. Who was the Yankee baseball radio announcer who always said “How About That”?

1. “Carousel” 2. June Jones 3. June Havoc 4. Beaver Cleaver of “Leave it to Beaver” 5. June Allyson 6. “How About You”

Roberta Montes of San Leandro

The first person to email or mail, no calls please, the correct answers to all of the above questions will win a $25 gift certificate at The Uptown Cafe in downtown Danville, compliments of Ben Fernandez!
Entries must be received by May 20, 2010. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn at random. Please email your answers to, or mail to ALIVE East Bay, 199 East Linda Mesa Avenue, Suite 10, Danville, CA 94526. Employees and family members of employees of ALIVE East Bay are not eligible. Restaurant may be changed without notice.

Certified Divorce Financial Analysts Help Splitting Couples Follow the Money

Statistically speaking, marriage is a leap of faith. About half of all first marriages end in divorce, and the rates for second marriages are only a little better. One of the biggest knots to untie when a marriage fails is financial, and that is where a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst like Nick Ventimiglio, CDFA, of San Ramon can help.

“Most clients come to me in a huge state of fear caused by uncertainty,” Ventimiglio said. “For some this uncertainty is coupled with grief and others it’s anger. Regardless, the common thread is fear. 

“Is my spouse hiding assets? Should I try to keep the house?  Will I have enough income after the divorce? Should I take assets in lieu of spousal support? How will I move forward and build a new life after my divorce?  Many times, the weight of this uncertainty is so heavy that without the proper support and professional guidance from an attorney and/or CDFA, the client avoids taking action, simply waiting for the entire ordeal to be handled by the opposing party.”

The ostrich-like approach of sticking one’s head in the sand and perhaps surrendering control to their soon-to-be former spouse is rarely effective. “Many times the attorney’s don’t have the specific training or background to know if the asset split  and other arrangements they are negotiating are actually in the long term financial interest of the client,” Ventimiglio explained.  “That is where a CDFA can be most beneficial – in supporting the attorney’s efforts and analyzing the potential outcomes of different arrangements (based on financial facts instead of emotion) before they are agreed to or suggested to the opposing party.

A CDFA is a financial analyst who specializes in the financial issues surrounding divorce. The role of the CDFA includes acting as an advisor to one party’s attorney, or as a mediator for both parties. A CDFA uses his or her knowledge of tax law, asset distribution, and short- and long-term financial planning to achieve an equitable settlement.

Ventimiglio had seven years of financial planning experience before becoming a CDFA. He was required to complete four separate specialized exams and a final written case study to earn his CDFA accreditation.

“Finding professional financial advice in the Bay Area is not hard. There are many well-qualified practitioners in every city. I saw professional financial guidance for those going through a divorce as an under-served niche. In most marriages, one party handles the finances and the other is mostly in the dark. I like helping the person in the dark see the light by providing them with the financial guidance needed to confidently move forward.”

Ventimiglio’s office is at 2010 Crow Canyon Place, Suite 100, in San Ramon. He can be reached by calling 925-824-3191, emailing, or by visiting his website at